Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lauture v. A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 8, 2017

GUY LAUTURE AND JEREMY ROSSMEISL, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
A.C. MOORE ARTS & CRAFTS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT, INCENTIVE AWARDS, COSTS, AND EXPENSES AND AUTHORIZING NOTICE

          Honorable Judith G. Dein United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter came before the Court on Plaintiffs' Assented-To Motion for Approval of Settlement, Service Awards, and Attorneys' Fees and Costs (“Motion for Settlement Approval”). After reviewing the Motion for Settlement Approval, the supporting Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion for Settlement Approval (the “Memorandum”), and the Declarations of Justin M. Swartz, Gregg I. Shavitz, and Hillary Schwab and supporting exhibits, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         The Settlement Is Approved

         1. The Court approves and incorporates by reference all of the definitions contained in the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release.

         2. The Court hereby approves the $2, 900, 000.00 settlement. Courts approve FLSA settlements that are reached as a result of contested litigation to resolve bona fide disputes. See, e.g., Curtis v. Scholarship Storage Inc., No. 14 Civ. 303, 2016 WL 3072247, at *2 (D. Me. May 31, 2016) (citing Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th Cir. 1982)); Singleton v. AT&T Mobility Servs., LLC, 146 F.Supp.3d 258, 261 (D. Mass. 2015); Scovil v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., No. 10 Civ. 515, 2014 WL 1057079, at *1 (D. Me. Mar. 14, 2014).

         3. Here, the settlement meets the standard for approval. The settlement followed adequate informal discovery and arm's-length negotiations with the assistance of a mediator, a former Magistrate Judge from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Diane Welsh. Recognizing the uncertain legal and factual issues involved, the parties reached their settlement after attending a private mediation session supervised by Judge Welsh.

         The Settlement Procedure Is Approved

         4. A one-step approval process is appropriate in FLSA settlements that do not include proposed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 class releases. See, e.g, Koszyk v. Country Fin. a/k/a CC Servs., Inc., No. 16 Civ. 3571, 2016 WL 5109196, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 16, 2016); Roberts v. Apple Sauce, Inc., No. 12 Civ. 830, 2014 WL 4804252, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 25, 2014); Bozak v. Fedex Ground Package Sys., Inc., No. 11 Civ. 738, 2014 WL 3778211, at *2 (D. Conn. July 31, 2014); Dixon v. Zabka, No. 11 Civ. 982, 2013 WL 2391473, at *1-2 (D. Conn. May 23, 2013); Campbell v. Advantage Sales & Mktg. LLC, No. 09 Civ. 1430, 2012 WL 1424417, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Apr. 24, 2012); Aros v. United Rentals, Inc., Nos. 10 Civ. 73, et al., 2012 WL 3060470, at *2 (D. Conn. July 26, 2012); Powell v. Lakeside Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., No. 11 Civ. 719, 2011 WL 5855516, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 22, 2011). “Unlike Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23 class actions, FLSA collective actions require similarly situated employees to affirmatively opt-in [in order to] be bound by any judgment.” Cunha v. Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC, No. 16 Civ. 10545, 2016 WL 6304432, at *2 (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2016) (citation omitted); Pike v. New Generation Donuts, LLC, No. 12 Civ. 12226, 2016 WL 707361, at *3 (D. Mass. Feb. 20, 2016). Because individuals who do not opt in to an FLSA lawsuit may bring their own separate suits, FLSA collective actions do not implicate the same due process concerns as do Rule 23 actions. O'Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy, No. 14 Civ. 00192, 2015 WL 2452678, at *4 (D. Me. May 22, 2015) (“The due process safeguards built into Rule 23 class actions are not necessary in the FLSA collective action context.”). The Court finds that a one-step settlement approval process is appropriate here.

         5. The Settlement Notice attached to the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release is approved. Counsel for the parties shall make the necessary corrections to fill in the blank dates in the Settlement Notice. The Settlement Notice sufficiently informs Eligible Settlement Class Members of the allocation formula, the steps Class Members must follow in order to participate, the consequences of non-participation, the estimated monetary amount to which they are entitled under the settlement, the scope of the release, the time Class Members have to cash their settlement checks (120 days from the issuance of Settlement Checks), the request for attorneys' fees and costs, and other terms of the settlement. See, e.g., Lapan v. Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc., No. 13 Civ. 11390, 2015 WL 8664204, at *3 (D. Mass. Dec. 11, 2015) (approving class notice that, inter alia, described settlement terms and options to participate); Michaud v. Monro Muffler Brake, Inc., No. 12 Civ. 00353, 2015 WL 1206490, at *10 (D. Me. Mar. 17, 2015) (approving “notices [that]. . . communicate accurate information about the suit in order to enable potential collective action members to make informed decisions about whether to participate” (internal quotation marks omitted)); Bozak, 2014 WL 3778211, at *3 (approving FLSA notice providing notice of settlement terms and options facing class); Prena, 2015 WL 2344949, at *1 (approving one-step settlement notice when it was “sufficiently in plain English to explain the important points: the terms of the settlement, the allocation formula, the amount of the entitlement, how to opt-in, and that cashing the check is equivalent to releasing the claim”).

         6. The plan for sending the Settlement Notice as proposed by Plaintiffs is approved.

         The Incentive Awards Are Approved

         7. Incentive awards of $15, 000 to each Named Plaintiffs are approved. The amount shall be paid from the Gross Settlement Amount.

         8. Plaintiffs in class and collective actions play a crucial role in bringing justice to those who may otherwise have no access to judicial enforcement of their rights. “Incentive awards serve to promote class action settlements by encouraging named plaintiffs to participate actively in the litigation in exchange for reimbursement for their pursuits on behalf of the class overall.” Bezdek v. Vibram USA Inc., 79 F.Supp.3d 324, 352 (D. Mass.), aff'd, 809 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2015). “Because a named plaintiff is an essential ingredient of any class action, an incentive or service award can be appropriate to encourage or induce an individual to participate in the suit.” Scovil, 2014 WL 1057079, at *6. In wage and hour cases, “awards of $10, 000 and $15, 000 are not uncommon and on occasion reach $20, 000, $30, 000 and higher.” Id. (summarizing cases). Incentive awards are particularly important in employment litigation. See Bozak, 2014 WL 3778211, at *4 (“[I]n employment litigation, the plaintiff is often a former or current employee of the defendant, and thus, by lending his name to the litigation, he has, for the benefit of the class as a whole, undertaken the risk of adverse actions by the employer or co-workers.” (quoting Velez v. Majik Cleaning Serv., Inc., No. 03 Civ. 8698, 2007 WL 7232783, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted)); see generally Nantiya Ruan, Bringing Sense to Incentive Payments: An Examination of Incentive Payments to Named Plaintiffs in Employment Discrimination Class Actions, 10 Emp. Rts. & Emp. Pol'y J. 395 (2006); see also Shahriar v. Smith & Wollensky Rest. Group, Inc., 659 F.3d 234, 244 (2d Cir. 2011) (recognizing benefits of plaintiffs bringing wage and hour collective and class litigation because, without them, other employees may not assert their rights due to fears “of retaliation or of being ‘blackballed' in [their] industry . . . .”).

         9. Incentive awards serve the important purpose of compensating plaintiffs for the time and effort expended in assisting the prosecution of the litigation, the risks incurred by becoming and continuing as a litigant, the public nature of a collective action filing, and any other burdens they sustain. See e.g., Scovil, 2014 WL 1057079, at *6; Aros, 2012 WL 3060470, *3. Accordingly, incentive awards are commonly awarded to those who serve the interests of the class. Scovil, 2014 WL 1057079, at *6; In re Celexa & Lexapro Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. MDL 09-2067, 2014 WL 4446464, at *9 (D. Mass. Sept. 8, 2014) (“The purpose of [] incentive awards is to reimburse the plaintiffs for their effort in pursuing the claims on behalf of the entire ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.